Let us ask the question: if democratic capitalism is such a powerful engine of prosperity and equality, why are the obstacles it faces so many, the enemies it has to battle so implacable, the allies it has to rely on so soft?

  • Start of the course - Open

  • Recommended duration 7-9 weeks

  • Estimated effort - 3-4 hours/week

  • Language - Spanish

  • Price - Free

This course is entirely online. The different units of the course will remain open 24/7 during the course opening period. The course "Liberalism, a philosophy in danger" is open to any participant profile.

Course description

In this course, Pedro Schwartz gives us his personal view on the history and controversial present of the liberal doctrine, a philosophy that originated in ancient Greek thought and took shape in the 18th and 19th centuries, to consolidate itself as a political and economic ideology during the 20th century.

A distinctive feature of Pedro Schwartz's liberal stance is his recognition of the benefits of market forces, free competition, globalisation and international trade as a factor in the development of nations. In his discourse, he takes the best of liberal economic thought, in its various schools (scholastic, classical, Austrian, Chicago and Public Choice), being very critical of Keynesian theory.

The course has two options or levels of depth, one basic and one advanced.

Course structure

Pedro Schwartz introduces us to the topics we will be dealing with during the course. Considering freedom under threat as the main problem, we will start with the fundamental ideas of classical liberalism and its necessary elements. He will then give us his vision of the situation as an economist and will end the module talking about the ideas, the interests and the future of liberalism.

Professor Schwartz introduces us to the fundamental ideas of classical liberalism, his personal proposal. With this premise we will analyse historically the fundamental ideas about the limits of knowledge, man as a "social animal", freedom as a fundamental value, rights and free competition in all fields. We also add a section of advanced contents from this module onwards, where the basic contents mentioned above are explored in more depth.

In this section, Pedro Schwartz will present his vision of capitalism and its fundamental relationship with liberalism. The origins and benefits of capitalism, as well as its historical detractors, will be reviewed. At the end of the module, the current situation is analysed, including the crisis of 2007 and its true origins.

We will look at how the state has developed and what role the individual has in it. This relationship leads to the following reflection: Is a liberal system possible when there is a need for a state?

Pedro Schwartz will talk about the erosion of political economy or the move away from the free market by economists and its revival thanks to the intervention of five prominent economists.

Starting from the premise of considering liberal democracy as potentially unstable, Pedro Schwartz illustrates the need for the state, drawing on the definitions of Adam Smith, John Wallis and Karl Popper, and considering the "open society state" as the most suitable for coexisting with decomocracy and individual freedom. In this context, we will see the contradictions of the system and some of its most important dilemmas, such as freedom or wealth, patriotism or nationalism and the controversial inequality.

After a preliminary analysis of the "black legend" and criticisms of liberalism, Pedro Schwartz indicates the filters for overcoming these criticisms. Later, he will discuss the importance of the individual in relation to collectives and will set out his vision of the concepts of justice, freedom and individual responsibility. Finally, he will analyse the conflict between equality and freedom of opportunity, and conclude by discussing values and interests.

We will end the course with the conclusions drawn from the topics covered in the previous modules and his positive and encouraging view of the future of liberal thought. In addition, Professor Schwartz will talk about the "white legend of liberalism", the successes of intellectual debate, the new centres of thought and the impact of liberal postulates on public opinion, among other analyses.

Academic direction of the course

  • Pedro Schwartz Girón

    Professor at the Camilo José Cela University and author, among many other books, of "Bases filosóficas del liberalismo" (1989) and "Encuentros con Karl Popper" (1994) together with Carlos Rodríguez Braun and Fernando Méndez Ibisate. As a professor at the Rafael del Pino Foundation, his main lines of research are the following: "Democratic Capitalism: Progress and Paradox", a complete rewrite in English version of his work "In Search of Montesquieu. Democracy in Peril" (2007), with a special focus on the economic crisis between 2007 and 2014; an edition of the "Iberian Correspondence of Jeremías Bentham"; and "Free banking in Spain (1856-1875)", a study of the period of free competition in the issuance of banknotes in Spain.

  • Thomas Baumert

    Thomas Baumert (Germany, 1976) holds a PhD in Economics (Extraordinary Prize and mention "doctor europeus") from the Complutense University of Madrid. He holds degrees in Business Administration and Management (University of Reutlingen and ICADE), Political Science and Sociology (UNED), and a Master's degree in International Relations (I.U. Ortega y Gasset-UCM), as well as courses and postgraduate degrees from the universities of Oxford, Harvard, London School of Economics and George Washington. Professor at the CES "Cardenal Cisneros" (UCM) and the Nebrija University, he has focused his research on the following areas: economics of innovation, economics of terrorism, history of economic thought -specially the life and work of Heinrich von Stackelberg-, as well as the economic analysis of prize law. In all of these areas, he has published numerous publications with national and international impact.

  • María Blanco

    PhD in Economics from the Complutense University of Madrid, Professor of Economics at the San Pablo-CEU University. Associate Professor at ILEAD (Institute of Leadership, Ethics and Advancement) of the San Pablo-CEU University. Author of "Las Tribus Liberales" (2014), "Afrodita Desenmascarada" (2016) and co-author, together with Carlos Rodríguez Braun and Luis Daniel Ávila, of "Hacienda somos todos, cariño" (2021). Active participant in social networks such as @godivaciones on twitter and Instagram. Director of the economic thought podcast #RuidoBlanco, available on Spotify.

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